The Germans I ate with at Spezialkeller, a beer garden in Bamberg, seemed genuinely disappointed when we were told there was no wirsing (an unappetizing-looking but apparently delicious green vegetable paste) available. When a huge bowl of sauerkraut was placed on the table instead, not even German stoicism could mask the dislike of that fermented mess. However, the odorous intruder was soon forgotten as we enjoyed schaüferla (a large piece of pork cooked until crispy), good beer, great company, and a beautiful view of the city and the sunset.
I visited Bamberg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in order to see my old UMBC teammates, Leo and Greg. The competitive spirit is alive and well with them if you consider the seriousness with which they play water polo with their friends. Not only did everyone wear team caps (I was thankful for my side’s blue caps since my eyes are too weak to identify faces in the pool otherwise), but everyone played as hard as they could with strict rule-following and lots of sprinting to reach the ball. It was very fun.
The city itself and its surroundings are beautiful and don’t need much explanation. Leo’s family lives in the countryside with a view of farm fields and a nearby castle. The short Autobahn ride to Bamberg itself (Aside: it was totally unremarkable to Leo that we were driving 140 km/hr) seemed as if we were in the middle of the forest. We saw all of the sites from Altenberg Castle (where you can climb a tower to get a panoramic view of the surrounding city and countryside) to the colorful Altes Rathus (old town hall). It’s almost boring to write about since everything was so nice. Bamberg is definitely worth a stop in.